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Spy Game (2001) Poster

(2001)

Goofs

Character error 

When Harry Duncan counteroffers $282,000 to the Chinese General to shut off the power, he actually said $2,820,000 in Chinese instead.

Anachronisms 

While in Lebanon in 1985, Tom is wearing a style of San Diego Padres hat that did not exist until the early 1990s.
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In addition to putting a non-existent US embassy into Hong Kong, the movie also places one in Berlin. In the 1980s the US Embassy to West Germany was in Bonn, not West Berlin (which was not strictly speaking part of West Germany).
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Late-1990s vintage computers and monitors appear in the scenes set in 1985 (the embassy in Beirut) and 1991 (the CIA headquarters).
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GSM mobile phone panel antennas, not used in the '80s, can be clearly seen all around the roof of the building in West Berlin.
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There's a huge Coca-Cola sign in the Beirut café in 1985, but Coca-Cola wasn't re-introduced to the Lebanese market until July 1990, after a 23 year absence.
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The cellphone that Muir uses was not available in 1991 when the movie was set. First models in the Nokia 2100 series were available during the summer of 1994, many other 21xx models much later on in America.
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In 1985 in the Beirut café, the song heard in the background is "Noor Eshams" by the Lebanese singer Pascal Mashalani, the song was released for the first time in 2000.
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The opening to Baywatch being watched by the businessmen shows a credit for Pamela Anderson. This scene takes place in 1991, and Anderson did not join the show's cast until 1992.
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The plane in which Muir is supposed to travel to Karachi is an Spanish made CN-235. This plane were introduced in 1986, not '85 when scene is situated. Probably the airplane is part of the Moroccan Air Force.
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By April 1975, the US air base at Danang had been evacuated
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In 1985, there weren't any small satellite dishes in Lebanon.
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While Tom and Elizabeth were sitting in a restaurant and Nathan joined them, they was an Arabic song on the back called Noor Alshams "Sun light" by Baskal Mashaalani. It was released in 2000.
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The plane in which Muir is supposed to travel to Karachi is an Spanish made CN-235. This plane were introduced in 1986, not 85 when scene is situated. Probably the airplane is part of the Morrocan Air Force.
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Audio/visual unsynchronised 

Approximately in the middle of the movie, when the train is arriving at the platform in Berlin and Bishop gets off, we can hear the train bell. The bell is common for US railroads but is not used in Europe.
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The motorcycle in the building bombing scene is clearly a 4 stroke motorcycle. You can know this by the throttle has two cables as on a 4 stroke (a 2 stroke only has one). Also you can see the exhaust header is small like a 4 strokes as compare to a 2 stroke which is very fat. When the motorcycle rider pulls out of the basement you can hear that it is a 4 stroke. It makes a 4 stroke sound - low, thumping sound. But in the scenes on the road, and when doing the jump, they used a 2 stroke motor for the sound effect - high pitched, high revving, pinging sound.
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When Bishop chastises Muir on his views of Hadley's apparent neutrality, his mouth isn't moving.
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The prison Su Cho seems to be a late addition. You can clearly see that Su Cho is dubbed over.
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Character error 

When training to defeat a polygraph, the polygraph examiner asks Tom Bishop his favorite color. Polygraph examinations consist of "yes/no" or binary questions.
Once Operation Dinner Out is accomplished, the pilot of the helicopter identifies himself over the radio with a Blackhawk ID. This is in line with Muir requesting "02 MH-60K" from Commander Wiley. Yet, the helicopters in use were not Blackhawks, but Hueys.
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Innumerable breaches of security procedure (failing to sign for classified documents, writing on pads of paper, using a non-GSA approved safe, not wearing ID tag, etc.)
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Bishop's hair is not USMC regulation length while in Germany.
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Muir tells the doctor in Beiruit that his patient's death was from 'CO2 asphyxiation' i.e. carbon dioxide. From the pictures and the presumed accidental cause of the death this should probably be CO asphyxiation, i.e. carbon MONoxide.
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Muir, after having Bishop elicit a piece of information, tells Bishop he gave out 4 facts about himself (Bishop) for one dubious piece of information: "You're straight, you're engaged, tomorrow is your girl's birthday, and you have no taste in women's fashion... What if she was an asset: You told her four lies that now have to be true." But Bishop *is* straight. He only told 3 lies.
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Muir smashes the glass of a framed document to get the document out. When he turns the frame over to shake out the broken glass, we can see there are frame tabs on the back which he could have used to remove the backing and take the document out without breaking the glass.
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Continuity 

When posing as a photojournalist, Tom Bishop carried two cameras: a Nikon and a Leica. While in photographing the doctor and an injured child in Lebanon, Tom's camera switches back and forth between his Leica and his Nikon, depending on the camera angle. From the front he is shown shooting with his Lecia (with external view finder), then in the same moment he is shown shooting with his Nikon (the silver body and empty hot shoe are visible), then again with his Leica.
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When Muir and Bishop meet at the railway station in Berlin, behind Muir and his wife the same woman (an extra) gets off the train twice.
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When Muir first puts the Bishop files in the "burn bag", the top of the bag is crumpled. Moments later when his secretary Gladys is holding the bag, the top of the bag is neatly folded down.
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When the STASI are chasing Bishop in Berlin they deploy the blue-lights on the roof. The cord is going through the open car window. When they take it off after leaving the pub (after the chase) the cord is not going through the window.
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Muir's breakfast switches around between different shots when Bishop gives him the flask.
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When Bishop is brought onto the helicopter two soldiers proceed to stand on the skid of the helicopter as it begins its takeoff. The soldiers disappear in the next shot, when the helicopters are several feet in the air.
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When Muir and Bishop meet after the failed attempt to free a man from East Germany, Bishop grabs the chair twice before sitting down.
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Although the story spans 16 years, nobody ages in the movie. Assuming Tom Bishop is 21 in Vietnam, he would be 37 in 1991, yet he doesn't age a day.
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The film takes place in 1991. The trade confirmation form that Harker acquires shows Muir having liquidated his assets that day, and signed the form on "10/11/90". In a similar vein, the deed Muir receives from the C.I.A. director is dated "November 1990". Yet, a TV report refers to the "2nd Anniversary Berlin Wall" which supports the idea of the film taking place in 1991.
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Tom Bishop's hair is streaked with gray in the beginning of the film, when he is infiltrating Su Chou Prison. During the brief flashes of interrogation scenes throughout the movie, his hair is black. During the final rescue scene, his hair has streaks of gray in it again.
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When Doumet is monitoring Hadley's apartment, and we see Bishop leave, Hadley's car is seen on the left of the screen. When Hadley leaves, she goes to the same car on the right. When Doumet stands up, the car is back on the left of the screen.
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In the last third of the movie, Harker says to his associate: "Muir worked with Duncan? Bishop worked for both." He says this as if he has just realized Muir and Duncan worked together, even though much earlier in the day, he had already raised his concerns to Folger about Duncan and Muir knowing each other.
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Crew or equipment visible 

When the rescue helicopters are landing on the prison roof, there is someone in the bottom right corner waving them in. It couldn't have been a guard because they were taken by surprise, and it couldn't have been one of their own, since none of the helicopters had landed yet.
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Errors in geography 

The prison guards are speaking Cantonese instead of Mandarin, and the Chinese characters shown are traditional Chinese characters whereas in mainland China people use simplified Chinese characters.
There is no 'Kaarachi' in India - Karachi is, in fact, the largest metropolis in the south of Pakistan, not India.
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The USA has no embassy in Hong Kong. Embassies only exist in the capital of an independent nation, not in a colony. The U.S. has a consulate in Hong Kong. In the two live TV reports from Hong Kong the reporter correctly refers to the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong, even though he's standing in front of a building marked as "Embassy".
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When Muir and Bishop sit on a rooftop after a failed rescue of an informant in Berlin, you can clearly see the Budapest skyline, not Berlin.
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The building used as CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, retains some of its native English "fire door - keep shut" door stickers.
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UK "zig-zag" road markings when Muir is driving to the Langley offices.
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The lat/long coordinates Muir types for the Dinner Out operation are 6 miles inland near Qinhuangdao near North Korea, about 1200 miles North of Hong Kong.
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In the beginning of the movie Muir is traveling eastbound over the TR bridge into Washington D.C. If he were going to Langley he would be traveling west bound on I-66 and onto the GW parkway coming from Maryland.
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Distance from Limassol in Cyprus (arguably the nearest likely port) to Beirut is 152 statute miles, an awful long haul in the boat pictured.
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Factual errors 

The windows and walls at CIA headquarters are made to block radio transmissions; a cell-phone would not work inside.
China has enough experience with cholera that it would not require foreign aid personnel to help deal with it. In any event, it's highly implausible that a foreigner would be allowed into a Chinese prison without being adequately screened.
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When Nathan Muir is approaching the exit of the CIA building, close to give his badge on his final day, he has already tipped off the press and he thinks Bishop is fine. But he sees on the TV screen a new "live report from Hong Kong" where the reporter says that Bishop was already dead. It is about 3pm in Langley when Muir is leaving, which makes it impossible to be daylight in Hong Kong... yet the live report from Hong Kong is clearly in daylight.
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Operation "Dinner Out" takes place between 0700 and 0800 Eastern time. The assault on the prison takes place in the dark, aided by the power blackout, and by the time the team withdraws it has become daylight, indicating morning. 0700 in Washington would be 1900 in China (evening not morning).
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When Muir is preparing the Op, after creating the ops order, he puts it into an envelope and licks it. That sort of envelope is reusable, has no lickable gum, and is sealed by wrapping string around the button on the back of the envelope. Licking it would therefore have no effect.
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The Bekka Valley site in Lebanon is spoken of a "becca or Becca" when it is actually pronounced "be' ka" and is in two syllables rather than one.
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When Muir talks to Commander Wiley on the phone near the end of the film, a caption shown misspells Su Chou as "Su Cho".
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When Duncan is negotiating with Deng, he clearly tells Muir "Deng wants five-hundred-thousand YUAN for the power out in Su Chou." In 1991, this would have been about $95,500 U.S. dollars, so when Muir counter-offers and says "No way. Tell him $100K and I'll pay him in dollars," he is offering more than Deng asked for. The final price, $282,000USD, would have been approximately 1,500,000 yuan in 1991.
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Not sure, maybe the Muir reprinted the Bahamas literature in the middle of the night together with everything else, but isn't it too coincidental that his nest egg perfectly equals the price of the place he's going to buy?
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Miscellaneous 

In Beirut, the men wait for the sheik at the head of a boat launch ramp, not at dock (pier). No way is he getting out of that boat without at least one person getting soaked up to their knees! (Likely the sheik himself, or do two guys carry him?)
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Harker says "Muir worked with Duncan? Bishop worked for both." If you have the subtitles turned on, this shows as "Muir worked with Duncan? This should work for both."
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Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

Muir is told that support for Operation Sideshow is "Commander Wiley's outfit in the Penghu Islands." There are no American military bases in Penghu, but judging from the scene of Commander Wiley on the phone, it's possible that his "outfit" is an aircraft carrier or other Navy vessel that is permitted to be in that area, the type of ship that can handle helicopters. All US military personnel were withdrawn from the Republic of China (including Penghu) after the US switched diplomatic recognition to mainland (Communist) China in 1979.
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Revealing mistakes 

When Nathan needs money to rescue Tom Bishop, he calls his broker's (Mitch Alford) office in London to liquidate his accounts. The time is a little after 9 PM Washington time, which would be after 2 AM in London, but the office is open and a secretary answers the phone.
An RPG gunner is shown firing his weapon, but the rocket is obviously not loaded.
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Early in the movie when Muir is opening his safe to remove his files on Bishop (and we first get to see his Bahamas brochure) the numbers on the safe, the combination buttons, are upside-down.
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In car chase in the beginning of the movie, the two East German policemen speak with heavy Hungarian accents.
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Spoilers

The goof items below may give away important plot points.

Factual errors 

The final scene when Bishop learns that the rescue operation is called "Dinner Out" is emotionally appealing, but not believable. Bishop is supposed to hear the voice of the helicopter pilot when the pilot is talking through the radio of his helmet to the base "We are inbound, operation Dinner Out accomplished". Bishop has no helmet, and the helicopter is flying with the rear doors open. There is no way he could have hear the pilot, who was not facing him, so he could not even read his lips. The noise of the helicopter would prevent him from hearing the pilot who was talking to his microphone in a normal voice.
Operation Dinner Out launches just before a "7:17 am" time mark appears onscreen. Bishop is rescued 25 minutes later, at 7:42 am. The helicopters shown - the Hueys (Bell UH-1) - would need at least 36 minutes to make the 80 miles (distance is shown in onscreen caption) from Penghu to Su Chou. The Black Hawks (mentioned in the dialogue) would barely make it (at least 22 minutes to make the distance).
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Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

When Muir is preparing the falsified orders for the military rescue for Bishop, we see him insert the paperwork in a brown urgent cable envelope suggesting that someone was going to pick it up, however, no one does. There is no visual of him actually sending the orders. After the envelope is prepared, we simply see him having a drink, presumably from the bottle given to him as a gift. The next morning, when Harker is questioning Muir about his actions during the night, Harker also mentions that the satellite imagery analysis given to Troy the previous day was "returned at 0300." It's safe to assume that Muir was orchestrating some of the logistics throughout the night, even if we aren't shown all of his actions.
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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